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Old Cars: To Keep or to Replace?

A car’s age is rarely an affecting factor of insurance prices. Insurance groups are typically determined on engine size, power, and presumptions regarding the average type of driver of that vehicle. However, there are other aspects of owning older cars which makes it tempting to replace them with new cars.

Expensive repairs often effectively write off the value of older cars immediately. For example, replacement of the clutch of a Ford Focus 1.6 is likely to cost around £500: around the trade value of an S-plate model. However, with a new Ford Focus costing around £14,000, an exchange would be beyond the means of many. A new model only promises 3 years of care free fully-warranted motoring. Beyond then, there are a whole host of potential faults. These days, electrical faults are likely to be our first enemy. What’s more, following the warranty period, this newly purchased Ford Focus with an average 36,000 miles on the clock would have a value of only about £7000 – a shocking depreciation of 50% in 3 years. If depreciation is considered to be running cost (which it should be), running the old Focus and paying for occasional repairs is probably by far the cheaper option, even if you are offered a cheaper or even free insurance package as an incentive to buy.

As for fuel economy, though it is true that modern cars are becoming much less thirsty, this is usually not to the extent as is claimed by manufacturers. To give the example of the Focus again, many disgruntled owners have criticised the 1.6 TDCI model for alleged appalling sub-40 mpg figures as opposed to Ford’s optimistic claims of over 60! With an S-plate model achieving around 38 mpg, there may in fact be little difference in economy between the two cars.

However, for many people the biggest issue is with environmental issues. They remain unconvinced about the credentials of replacing our old ‘normal’ cars with the new variety of hybrids and electric cars. Whilst these may result in the emission of considerably less carbon dioxide during their operation, their production’s carbon footprint remains unforgettable. Researchers have even claimed that the overall lifespan of a Land Rover results in less CO2 being emitted than the lifespan of a Toyota Prius!

Of course, governments continues generous funding of modern alternatively-powered vehicles so that the car manufacturers can afford further development. In the future, we will have no choice but to use alternative cars. Therefore, it is preferable to develop the technologies well ahead of their need.

But overall, many people would give preference to running traditionally-powered cars until their life is well and truly up. Only at this time can their scrapping and replacing be fully justified. Perhaps we should not be tempted to always by new and never repair, and cars should not be viewed as disposable items, as have many of our other products.

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